Focusing on the body as RSI day approaches

Lost-time injuries due to musculoskeletal diseases and disorders on the rise in Canada

Focusing on the body as RSI day approaches

As International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness (RSI) Day approaches on February 29, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is reminding employers about the critical need to take proactive measures in preventing one of the leading causes of workplace injuries in Canada.

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are often the result of work that necessitates continual repetition of movements, such as lifting, typing, or twisting. These injuries develop gradually over time, impacting tendons, muscles, nerves, and joints in various parts of the body, including the back, shoulder, neck, hands, and arms. Not only do they affect a worker's ability to perform duties, but they also have detrimental effects on mental wellness and overall quality of life.

According to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), the number of accepted lost-time injuries due to musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diseases and disorders in Canada rose to 10,211 in 2022, marking a 2.5% increase from 2021.

"Taking a preventative approach to repetitive strain injuries is a message worth repeating on RSI Day, and every day,” says Anne Tennier, president and CEO of CCOHS. "Actively taking steps to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries promotes a healthier work environment where everyone can thrive."

CCOHS recommends several strategies for preventing RSIs in the workplace. These include:

  • Eliminating repetitive work: Structuring jobs so that workers can rotate through different tasks using different muscle groups. Mechanizing certain tasks where possible and encouraging workers to take short, frequent rest breaks.
  • Improving workstation design: Creating workstations that are ergonomically designed to fit the worker and accommodate standing, sitting, or sitting-standing positions. Providing appropriate tools and equipment to reduce the force needed to complete tasks and to avoid muscle strain or awkward postures.
  • Providing education and training: Training workers on the causes of RSIs, how to prevent these injuries effectively, and how to recognize early signs and symptoms.

To assist workplaces in raising awareness about RSIs and preventing injuries, CCOHS offers free resources on the Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day website.

By adopting these preventive measures, workplaces can significantly reduce the occurrence of RSIs, thereby fostering a safer and healthier environment for all employees.